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Kidney: Six Nations door open for hungry Hounds

Irish Wolfhounds v England Saxons - The Sportsground, Tonight, Live RTE2 (7.35) - Ireland coach Declan Kidney has thrown the door open for his Irish Wolfhounds to step up, apply pressure and break into the Six Nations squad that will start out against Wales next week.

The Corkman has confessed to going for form and youth over experience, inside centre Dave McSharry beating out Paddy Wallace and James Downey, locks Devin Toner and Lewis Stevenson holding off Leo Cullen and Michael Swift.

"We try to make sure we work towards the future," said Kidney, as he announced a starting side containing eight uncapped players and four others with three Ireland caps or less.

In real terms, there seems little chance that any of the Wolfhounds will force their way into the Six Nations frame. It simply wouldn't make sense.



Limit

The time limit on preparation for Wales is a mere two weeks. That is why the extended group of 46 players has been divided into two.

Those with most to gain are Leinster's Luke Fitzgerald and Michael Bent, Ulster's Tom Court and Iain Henderson and Munster's Dave Kilcoyne.

The maths mean that Kidney - he has committed to keeping 30 men for Six Nations week - will take as few as seven or as many as nine from this squad.

Saxons coach Jon Callard awards debuts to four players, including full-back Elliot Daly, centre Joel Tomkins and back rowers George Kruis and Will Fraser.

Number eight Jordan Crane will captain the squad which includes six England internationals, four of who start: centre Jordan Turner-Hall, scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, prop Paul Doran-Jones and Crane.

"This is a dynamic young side with an average age of less than 24 and the players have a chance to show that they can play a major part of the future of England Rugby over the coming years," said Callard.

"We're facing an experienced Irish side in this opening game and the challenge is to step up and deliver a high quality performance in front of a passionate crowd in Galway."

Irish Wolfhounds: R Henshaw; A Trimble, D Cave, D McSharry, L Fitzgerald; P Jackson, P Marshall; D Kilcoyne, M Sherry, M Bent, L Stevenson, D Toner, K McLaughlin, T O'Donnell, J Coughlan (capt).

England Saxons: E Daly; C Wade, J Tomkins, J Turner-Hall, T Biggs; G Ford, R Wigglesworth; N Wood, J Gray, P Doran-Jones, G Kitchener, G Robson, G Kruis, W Fraser, J Crane (capt).

Verdict: Irish Wolfhounds